Finally, we are beginning to feel that summer is here and that likely means long, fun-filled days at the beach or beside the pool. When we have children at the beach, we need to constantly be aware of their whereabouts. The ocean can be a dangerous place.
A good thing to do as parents is to check the conditions before laying out the towels and setting up for the day. Scan the beach looking out for large waves, rocks and particularly rips. Teaching our children about rips in the water is a great skill to pass on, especially as they get older and more independent. So what does a rip look like? A rip is the calm channel in between the waves. Although they look calm, they are actually currents which are moving fast out to sea. The colour of the water in a rip is also darker – another important indication that there is a rip. If in doubt, do not enter the water or, alternatively, go where other people are swimming. It is important to teach both children and adults about rips. About 80 per cent of people rescued at sea have been caught in a rip. Tragically, not everyone is saved.
If the beach where you have decided to go to for the day is patrolled by surf lifesavers and they have their flags out, swim between the flags. The surf lifesavers put the flags out in the safest place for swimming. The Omaha Surf Life Saving Club has a junior surf life saving club, which is fun and an excellent way to teach children water safety, build their confidence around the water and what to do if someone is in trouble. The club has a website (omahasurf.co.nz) where you can read about what they offer and there is a registration form to sign up.
Swimming lessons are a great way for children to learn both swimming and safety skills.
There are many providers in the Rodney community. Teaching children how to swim and water skills could save their life. There is also Water Skills for Life. Check out their website (watersafety.org.nz/water-skills-for-life—kids-have-fun-and-learn-water-safety) and see if this could be for you and your family.
To have fun at the beach this summer, be safe, wear sunscreen and, if you can, sit under shade. If you see someone in trouble in the water, dial 111 immediately.
Maria Collins, Homebuilders – Help Desk Advocate